Report: Afghan Govt in Talks with Taliban

The Washington Post is reporting that representatives of the Taliban have begun secret talks with the Afghan government, to negotiate an end to the war.The report, published late Tuesday, quotes unnamed Afghan and Arab sources who emphasized that the discussions are in a preliminary stage.They say for the first time they believe the Taliban representatives are fully authorized to speak for the Quetta Shura, the Afghan Taliban organization based in Pakistan, and its leader, Mohammad Omar.

According to the report’s sources, the Quetta Shura have begun to talk about an agreement that would include participation of Taliban figures in the government and the withdrawal of foreign troops on an agreed timeline.General David Petraeus, who leads U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, said last week that the Taliban had approached the Afghan government seeking reconciliation.Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he would talk to the Taliban if they agree to renounce violence and respect the country’s constitution.The Washington Post report says the reported talks do not include representatives of the Haqqani group, a separate militant faction that has been targeted in recent U.S. missile strikes in northwest Pakistan.The sources cited in the report all expressed concern that public description of the meetings would undermine the negotiations.In Afghanistan late Tuesday, Afghan officials say at least nine people, including a police officer, were killed in a series of explosions in the southern city of Kandahar.

Elsewhere in southern Afghanistan, NATO says a bomb attack killed one of its service members on Tuesday. No other details were given.NATO officials say they expect an increase in violence in Kandahar city and surrounding districts as troops work to clear Taliban insurgents from the region – Voanews